Midnight deadline looms in Fiat Chrysler, Unifor contract talks

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Unifor, the union representing about 9,750 workers at the company’s facilities in Ontario, are facing a Monday night deadline to work out a new collective agreement.

The union has said it will take strike action at midnight if the automaker resists following the deal that Unifor struck with General Motors Canada in September. The union traditionally works out an agreement with one of the Detroit Three automakers and then uses that as a pattern in its negotiations with the remaining two companies.

Unifor and Fiat Chrysler have been at the negotiating table throughout the Thanksgiving weekend.

The union has afternoon and evening media briefings planned ahead of the midnight deadline

In a tweet sent Monday, Unifor national president Jerry Dias reiterated the union’s main demand throughout its contract talks with the Detroit Three — the need for investment in the companies’ Canadian operations.

Fiat Chrysler builds the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans at its Windsor, Ont., assembly plant, which has received nearly $3 billion in recent investments.  The Automotive News says the company has about 70 days supply on hand of the Pacifica minivan, enough to get through a short work stoppage.

The union is looking for the company to invest in its Brampton, Ont., assembly plant, which makes the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger, and its Etobicoke, Ont., parts plant.

Unifor’s deal with GM includes a two per cent wage increase this year and another two per cent increase in September, 2019. There is also a $6,000 signing bonus plus lump sum bonuses of $2,000 in each of the next three years to most employees. 

However, the Automotive News has reported that Fiat Chrysler has balked at the economic terms of the deal Unifor reached with GM.